“Business as usual” just isn’t working anymore. Something has changed. Proven methods for getting messages out to customers and constituents are increasingly ineffective.
Here’s how Brian Halligan, co-author of Inbound Marketing and Chief Executive Officer of HubSpot describes the situation: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”
What is Brian talking about? It used to be that most of the information you gleaned about a product or service came from the company you were (considering) doing business with. Consumers could go to sources such as Consumer’s Report for an independent opinion. Or they could just ask around. But it wasn’t always easy to find objective information. There wasn’t a good way to gather information from peers who had used the product or service themselves. The Internet changed all that.
It used to be that if someone didn’t like what you offered, they might have to drive across town to find an alternative. Or maybe your customer would have to order by mail or phone—but that took time. Now, your competition is one click away. Differentiation has never been more important. But how do you set yourself apart?
Consumers can shop pricing at the click of a button. And some businesses offer to meet or beat any price anyway. One way you can set yourself apart is to provide your customers with helpful information—information that will enable them to make a good decision. Answer questions they have about the problems or issues they are trying to deal with. Help them figure out which solution is really going to meet their need. Will you win every sale? No. But hopefully you’ll win the people who are a good fit for your product or service—and those are the people who will tell their friends (and others) how great you are.
As businesses, we need to change the way we think about customers. Customers don’t exist to serve us. We exist to serve customers. How can you use the resources at your disposal to ensure the success of your customers? Businesses that figure this out will thrive. Businesses that don’t will go the way of the dinosaurs.